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Romans and Romantics$
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Timothy Saunders, Charles Martindale, Ralph Pite, and Mathilde Skoie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588541.001.0001

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The Romans and the American Romantics

The Romans and the American Romantics

(p.263) 13 The Romans and the American Romantics
Romans and Romantics

Carl J. Richard

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates that most of the American Romantics who created the United States' first national literature, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne, were the products of an educational system dominated by the study of Latin. It shows that their intense training in the Latin authors was often supplemented by tours of Roman sites in Italy that profoundly affected them and reinforced their support for the classical education of future generations. It reveals how the Romans influenced the Romantics' conception of nature, mythology, and natural law. Finally, it demonstrates that the Romantics were so steeped in the Roman classics that they were generally unable to distinguish the Greek heritage from Roman adaptations of it. Thus, it shows that both the traditional interpretation of Romanticism as anticlassical, and the more recent revision that depicts Romantic classicism as almost exclusively Greek, require significant modification.

Keywords:   American Romantics, classical education, classical mythology, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Greek heritage, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Latin, natural law, nature

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